‘12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Gravity’ dominate this year’s Academy Awards

file photo
file photo

“12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” were the big winners at an Academy Awards full of reliable hosting and few surprises Sunday night.

Held for the 86th time, the Academy Awards, more affectionately known as the Oscars, saw the slavery drama “12 Years a Slave” take home three awards, including the coveted prize of best picture. Based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, a free man who was wrongfully sold into slavery in 1841, “12 Years a Slave” also won the awards for best adapted screenplay for John Ridley and best supporting actress for newcomer Lupita Nyong’o.

While “12 Years a Slave” took home the top prize, it was the sci-fi disaster blockbuster “Gravity” that walked away with the most awards. The film won seven Oscars, including two for its director Alfonso Cuaron, who became the first person of Latin descent to win the best director Oscar.

Cuaron also won the award for best editing along with Mark Sanger. In addition to its two awards for Cuaron, “Gravity” won the awards for original score, cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

In addition to “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity,” the night’s other big winner was “Dallas Buyers Club,” the best picture-nominated film about Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient who overcame his homophobia to help get treatment for other AIDS patients.

Matthew McConaughey took home the best actor Oscar for his performance as Woodroof, while co-star Jared Leto won the best supporting actor Oscar for his role as Rayon, the transsexual who becomes Ron’s business partner and friend. “Dallas Buyers Club” also won the award for makeup and hairstyling.

In the other major categories, Cate Blanchett won her second Oscar for her leading role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” while Spike Jonze won best original screenplay for his script for the romantic drama “Her.”

Along with “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” the only other films to win multiple Oscars were Disney’s blockbuster hit “Frozen,” which won for best animated feature and best original song, and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” which won the awards for costume design and production design.

Catherine Martin, Luhrmann’s wife, won both awards, bringing her career Oscar total to four, while original song winner Robert Lopez became only the twelfth person in history to become a recipient of the prestigious EGOT, which is a term for people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.

While the majority of the night’s winners were the front-runners for their respective categories, it was surprising to see a number of this year’s best picture nominees go home empty-handed. “American Hustle,” which had the most nominations this year along with “Gravity,” was thought to be a potential spoiler in a number of categories, including best supporting actress for Jennifer Lawrence and best picture. Instead, the 1970s-set caper, which also starred acting nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper, came up short alongside films like “Captain Phillips,” “Nebraska” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Despite the predictable nature of the night’s winners, Ellen DeGeneres’s job as host was reliably entertaining. A stark contrast to last year’s controversial performance by “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, DeGeneres’s charming demeanor and clever gags helped make the show a success.

While DeGeneres’s opening monologue was a little too tame, it was her moments in between the awards that kept the three-and-a-half-hour ceremony entertaining and light. A running joke of ordering pizza for the attendees paid off wonderfully, resulting in an awe-struck pizza delivery man bringing out food to several of the nominees.

DeGeneres also cleverly brought Twitter into the fold with a bit centered around a selfie that featured DeGeneres and a number of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Brad Pitt, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Angelina Jolie, Channing Tatum and Meryl Streep. The picture, which DeGeneres said temporarily crashed Twitter, has been re-tweeted over two million times.

While DeGeneres did a strong job of anchoring the ceremony, the night’s several tributes to film history ultimately fell flat. The show’s overarching theme of movie heroes seemingly lacked a purpose, resulting in only a series of montages of footage from various animated, dramatic and superhero movies.

And despite a stirring rendition of “Over the Rainbow” by Pink and an appearance by Judy Garland’s children, including Academy Award winner Liza Minnelli, the tribute to the 75th anniversary of “The Wizard of Oz” also felt out of place.

Despite a lack of surprises and a few incomplete tributes, the 86th Academy Awards was an entertaining affair with a large number of deserving winners.

About the Author

Nick Keeley

Nick Keeley is a Chimes staff writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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